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National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Sienna's regional rotation in the Kimberleys

National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

The Kimberley is a special place. The people, the culture, the Country, the knowledge.

On my graduate rotation, I learnt of the history and aspirations of many Kimberley people and country – Yawuru, Bardi Jawi, Nyikina, Miriwoong, Kwini, Bindunbur, Jabirr Jabirr, Ngumbarl, Nyul Nyul, Ardi, Karajarri, Balanggarra. 

When I’m asked what inspired me on this trip - I say it’s the people. The people in Kalumburu who shared their culture and history so generously. It’s the First Nations women creating safe spaces for each other in women’s centres. It’s the kids I’ve seen wearing Uluru Statement from the Heart shirts. It’s the Rangers who are passionate and proud to care for their Country. Proud to pass this knowledge and passion onto their kids. It’s the connections that families, communities and all Aboriginal people across the Kimberley have with one another. It’s the kids who drove 10 hours from Wyndham to play footy on Cable Beach with their peers. It’s all of the people working in these communities for a better future for Aboriginal people. The people ensuring their remote communities continue to survive. 

It’s the Elders who talked to me about their experiences of the Stolen Generations, the loss and survival of languages, the loss and reclaiming of land. It’s the young leaders who spoke of their drive to learn language, to inspire young girls in their community, to be the Woman their younger selves needed. It’s the Aboriginal Women who have started their own incredible businesses. It’s the men who look out for their boys. Who look out for each other. It’s the parents who are passing on their culture and their knowledge. It’s the Women from Fitzroy Crossing who were kind enough to do a traditional healing for me. 

People are at the heart of what we do. Our regional offices are our greatest asset in reaching people. I will always value the expertise and connections that our regional offices hold in my future work.   

My time in the Kimberley gave me more confidence and expanded my passion for working with remote communities. I travelled to Broome, Bidyadanga, Beagle Bay, Ardyaloon, Lombadina, Djarindjin, Derby, Mowanjum, Pandanus Park, Jarlmadangah, Kununurra, Kalumburu and Wyndham. Each place faces their own unique challenges. Each place and its people deserves more. More respect, more choice, more opportunity, more care. 

One of my highlights was attending the Kimberley Aboriginal Women’s Culture Camp. I heard that Kimberley Women are ready to take ownership and leadership of the decisions, policies and programs that impact them. Kimberley Women are proud of themselves, their families and their culture. I learnt that the skills, knowledge and capability of women cannot be underestimated. 

Women drive change in their communities and for their young people. Without the inclusion of Aboriginal women’s voices there will be no change. I learnt that young people want to have high hopes for their future and not be limited by their circumstances. That kids want their parents to have more support. Young people want to learn their languages and have safe places to be themselves. 

I knew my time in the Kimberley was going to be incredible, but even still, it far exceeded my expectations. I had opportunities and experiences that I could not have dreamed of and I cannot thank all of the people who I encountered along the way enough. For the generosity of my colleagues and their families, of communities in sharing their knowledge and culture. For having me on their Country, teaching me the ways of the region, sharing stories of their history and their family, answering my hundred and one questions, and offering plenty of laughs and advice. I am endlessly grateful for this experience, and will carry it forward with me every day in both my professional and personal life.